THE Kitchen at the Cairn in the picturesque Hillfoots town of Alva opened up just a few weeks ago and after a recent visit I could see why some are already raving about it on social media.

It’s a cosy place in what must have previously been part of the function room at the drinkery, striking a great balance between what you’d expect from a simple pub grub and a fine-dining experience.

There’s always a homemade soup of the day along the expected classics, yet the menu caters for those who are a bit more adventurous or just want to send something fancy down to the stomach on a casual Sunday afternoon.

My plus one and I went along on a fairly quiet Saturday evening to give it a taste and left very satisfied, having demolished three courses.

To start with I opted for the fresh tomato and basil bruschetta, this Italian dish is one of my favourites.

It was put on the table by the friendly staff within what must have been minutes and I sent it down with a smile on my face, it was plentiful for a starter and tasted just like what I imagined.

My friend chose the scallops – it was a brilliant surprise to hear it’s on the menu and my pal later used the words “delicious, flavourful and amazing” to describe it to me.

Preparing this shellfish is no mean feat. Hats off to sous chef Darren Dowell who put it on the menu.

Throughout our stay the staff were fantastic, giving us the right amount of chat between our courses and letting us be with our mouths full.

For the main I was eyeing up the variety of the steaks available, but my finger landed on the Cairn spicy chicken, bacon and cheese stack.

Chargrilled and seasoned to perfection, the chicken was succulent yet cooked all the way through.

BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese combined well to dominate the palette while the bacon composed the final notes for this tasty package.

A fairly similar choice, my plus one went for the chargrilled chicken fillet, but opted for a hot and spicy coating instead.

A variety of desserts are available if you somehow have space for more – we went with the Alabama hot chocolate fudge cake and a homemade sticky toffee pudding with a butterscotch sauce.

Both were excellent with the option for ice cream.

The kitchen is run by chef Kenny Bell, who previously worked at the Juniper in Devonside and The Tearoom at Cambus with both ventures inspiring him.

He has a biochemistry degree under his belt, but admitted that despite what people may think, that never consciously plays a part in his work.

The passionate kitchen wizard always wanted to be chef and it was something that kept him financially stable throughout university.

Kenny worked in the biochemical industry for about a year and mused: “The only thing it confirmed in my mind is that I hated it and this [being a chef] was what I wanted to do.”